During the last decade increasing attention has been given to the role of free radicals in biological oxidations. The subject has been of increasing interest to both the food scientist and the physiologist. Free radical scavengers in the form of both indigenous and added antioxidants are necessary for the successful preservation of food; free radicals are increasingly being implicated in the onset of, among others, ischaemic heart disease and for protection against these diseases it is suggested that the dietary intake of the antioxidant vitamins should be increased especially for diets high in polyunsaturated fats. Convenience and snack foods which absorb substantial amounts of frying oils are being increasingly consumed. Since poly-unsaturated fatty acids are particularly susceptible to oxidation by free radicals during the storage, cooking and frying of foods, the potential risk of exposure to lipid degradation products is likely to have increased. In foods the non-enzymic and lipoxy-genase catalysed oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids, beta-carotene and vitamin A can result in the loss of essential nutrients and the development of off-flavours.